Review: Jim Beam Signature Craft, Finished with Rare Spanish Brandy

If there is one thing that I’ve learned since falling in love with bourbon, it’s that aesthetics are no indicator of good bourbon. Beautiful bottles can disguise crap whiskey and a garish orange label can hide an overlooked gem.

To some people there is nothing more satisfying than the squeak and pop of a cork being worked out of the neck of a bottle. I’ll admit, I used to love it too. Then of course, I picked up an expensive bottle with a rotted natural cork that broke off in the neck. Getting that out without too much dropping into the bourbon was a bit nerve wracking. Synthetic corks are a nice alternative, but I’ve had more than one where the glue let go and I’m left with a piece of rubber in the neck. Screw tops, while not as aesthetically pleasing, are my closure of choice. Not that I’m going to pass up a bottle based on it’s closure. But I will be a little happier drinking it when I don’t have a split second of worry if I imagine the cork seems a little wiggly.

Just as I’m not a fan of natural corks, it’s also no secret that I am not normally a fan of Jim Beam branded products. I love the higher end products that Beam produces. Booker’s is favorite. If I had to choose a go-to, Knob Creek would be in the conversation. For some reason though, the Beam branded releases normally don’t mesh with my palate. It’s not a judgement thing, just a preference thing.

So when I heard last year that Beam was going to try to bring the Jim Beam brand a bit upmarket with Jim Beam Signature Craft and Jim Beam Single Barrel, I was intrigued. I knew they could make some good whiskey and was hoping that this would be an example of it. Just like I have learned not to judge a bottle by it’s label or closure, I’ve also learned not to judge a bottle by the name it’s released under. 

One day, last winter, I walked into South Lyndale Liquors and noticed that they had the Signature Craft 12 year old and Spanish Brandy finished versions on the shelf. I tried a sample of each and decided that the Spanish Brandy was the one I had the better chance of enjoying. Looking at the bottle I noticed that this wasn’t finished in brandy barrels, but by adding a small amount of brandy to it. 

Jim Beam Signature Craft, Finished with Rare Spanish Brandy

Purchase Info: $39.99 for a 750 mL at South Lyndale Liquors, Minneapolis, MN

Details: 43% ABV

Nose: Brown sugar, candle wax, pencil shavings and apricot

Mouth: Brown sugar, black pepper, cloves and dried fruit

Finish: Warm, slightly mouth numbing with a lingering spicy sweetness


Thoughts: When I tell people that I like this one, I get more than a few skeptical looks. It’s no secret that I normally don’t like Jim Beam branded drinks. It’s possible this is the first. To me it hits a lot of the same notes as some of the rums I like. The finish is much nicer than I would have expected from a 43% ABV whiskey.

And, yes it has a lovely screw cap.